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Thomas Hudson Beare

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Sir Thomas Hudson Beare (June 30, 1859 - June 10, 1940) was a South Australian who became Professor of Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, at University College, London (where he was a colleague of Karl Pearson) and finally Regius Professor of Engineering at Edinburgh University.

He wrote articles for the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) and for the 1911 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica (EB1911). These are designated in the DNB and EB1911 by the initials "T. H. B."


1940 Obituary [1]

Professor Sir THOMAS HUDSON BEARE, LL.D., B.A., B.Sc., F.R.S.E., D.L., will be remembered by a very wide circle of engineers for his great work for engineering education in general, and in particular for his remarkable achievements in the organization of the Edinburgh University Engineering Buildings.

He was born in 1859 in Adelaide, South Australia, and in 1875 he entered the Public Works Department. After completing a University course at Melbourne, where he graduated in 1879, he obtained a scholarship which enabled him to come to England; he accordingly became a student at University College, London, under Professor Kennedy. During the next three years, he was awarded a Gilchrist Engineering Scholarship, and in due course obtained his B.Sc. degree. Shortly afterwards he became an assistant to Professor Kennedy in his private consulting practice; but in addition he held an appointment as demonstrator in the engineering laboratory at University College.

In 1887, however, he was appointed the first Professor of Applied Mechanics and Engineering at Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh, and at once set to work on the equipment of the first engineering laboratory in Scotland. Only two years later he succeeded Professor Kennedy at University College, and again he was instrumental in obtaining new equipment and carrying out many improvements at the Engineering School of that college. He returned to Edinburgh in 1901, on his appointment as Regius Professor of Engineering. Here the most important work of his life began. He took a leading part in the layout of the Sanderson Engineering Laboratory at West Mains, and made one of the most up-to-date in Great Britain.

In the new buildings, which were opened in 1906, were carried out the teaching and re-search programmes which were largely due to his initiative. In 1914 he became Dean of the Faculty of Science and was a member of the governing body of Edinburgh University for 28 years. He was Knighted in 1926, in recognition of his valuable educational work. Ten years later, the honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred on him by Edinburgh University, as a tribute to his work there. Sir Thomas, who was elected a Member of the Institution in 1893, rendered many valuable services to its activities in engineering research and education.

He was a member of the Marine Engine Trials Committee and the Steam Jacket Research Committee, in connection with which he contributed a number of papers. More recently, in 1936, his biographical paper on James Watt was published in the PROCEEDINGS. In addition he presided over the Joint Committee with the Scottish Education Department on National Certificates. Sir Thomas was elected an Honorary Life Member of the Institution in 1934. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Among his many other activities, his keen interest in military affairs may be mentioned.

He served with the Adelaide Rifle Corps in his school days, and many years later became captain in the Fourth Volunteer Division of the Royal Engineers. He was an original member of the committee which started the Edinburgh and East of Scotland Territorial Force Association, which later became the Territorial and Air Force Association, and in 1936 he acted as chairman. In addition he was one of the representatives for Scotland on the War Office Commission which moved the formation of the Officers' Training Corps. He was also chairman of the Edinburgh University Military Education Committee.

Another great interest of his was the work of the Miners' Welfare Commission, of which he was an original member. He was an active member of the British Association for nearly forty years; during 1894-1900 he was Recorder for Section G; and in 1922 he was president of that section. Sir Thomas maintained his interest in engineering education right up to the last.

His death occurred in Edinburgh on 10th June 1940.


1940 Obituary [2]

Sir Thomas Hudson Beare was born at Adelaide, South Australia, on June 30, 1859. He was educated at Prince Alfred College, and graduated B.A. at the University of Adelaide, where he was awarded the Fife Scholarship.

He came to London, studied at University College, and graduated B.Sc. at the University of London. He had some practical experience of railway construction in Australia, and later in the Midlands.

In 1884 he became Professor Kennedy's assistant at University College, London, and a year or two afterwards he was appointed as the first Professor of Mechanics and Engineering at the Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh.

Professor Beare was making a reputation as a teacher and organizer, and also as a sound engineer, and in 1889 he succeeded to the Chair of Mechanical Engineering at University College, London, on the resignation of Professor Kennedy.

In 1901 he was appointed Regius Professor of Engineering in the University of Edinburgh, a post which he held until his death on June 10, 1940. In all three of his professorial posts Sir Thomas was enabled to exercise his organizing abilities. The department at the Heriot-Watt College was a new one. The laboratories at University College were rebuilt and re-equipped during the middle period of his term of office, and in Edinburgh he successfully piloted his department through the distracting times of two rebuildings and removals.

In Edinburgh he was for many years Convener of the Works Committee of the University Court, and supervised the alterations of existing buildings as well as the erection of new departments. He had been Dean of the Faculty of Science since 1913, was Convener of the Military Education Committee of the University, and represented the University in the City of Edinburgh Territorial and Air Force Association.

In such a busy life there was not much time for research work, but Professor Beale was awarded the Telford Premium by the Institute of Civil Engineers for his paper on "The Building Stones of Great Britain," and he was largely responsible for many of the reports on Steam Jackets and Marine Engine Trials of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Sir Thomas was knighted in 1926, and in 1936 the honorary degree of LL.D. of the University of Edinburgh was conferred upon him. He was an Original Member of the Institute of Metals, a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, an Honorary Life Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a Vice-President of the Institution of Structural Engineers, and for some years a Vice-President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of the County of the City of Edinburgh, and had a seat on many of the Boards of Governors of Colleges and Institutions in that city. His chief hobby was, surprisingly, the study of the Coleoptera. -G. H. GULLIVER.


1940 Obituary [3]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1940 Jan-Jun: Index
  2. 1940 Institute of Metals: Obituaries
  3. 1940 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries